Duluth offers grants for neighborhood parks projectsThe city of Duluth launched a new grant program Thursday afternoon, but it will take neighborhood residents to provide the needed spark to achieve lift-off.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The city of Duluth launched a new grant program Thursday afternoon, but it will take neighborhood residents to provide the needed spark to achieve lift-off.
The city is inviting people to submit their ideas and proposals for projects that will improve local parks or enrich the recreational opportunities they provide. Up until May 25, Duluth will accept requests for grants ranging from $500 to $5,000.
“We know these are limited dollars, and we want to make sure we leverage them to the greatest extent possible,” Mayor Don Ness said of the $50,000 in grants he hopes the city will award by June.
Duluth is counting on residents to provide sweat equity and/or financial support to stretch those dollars as far as possible.
“There are no hard-and-fast rules, but the more residents can demonstrate they are willing to put into a project, it strengthens an application,” Ness said.
The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation has been tapped to handle the grant applications.
Holly Sampson, president of the foundation, encouraged people to bounce their ideas off evaluators by visiting the website dsacommunityfoundation.com and submitting a query.
“If an idea fits with our guidelines, a proposal will be encouraged,” she said.
All successful applications will need to involve residents working with a nonprofit organization registered as a 501(c)(3).
During a news conference at Lower Chester Park, Ness observed that neighbors of the park already had demonstrated “tremendous energy and enthusiasm to breathe new life” into the park and its ice rink.
He also pointed to neighboring Chester Bowl, where supporters of a local downhill ski program rallied to prevent the closure of the ski hill in 2008.
“We’ve already seen this concept works,” Ness said.
The neighborhood grant program was made possible by local voters, 57 percent of whom recently supported the creation of a new Parks and Recreation Fund, even though it meant raising property taxes.
In addition to the $50,000 in grants that will be awarded this spring, Ness said the city also plans a second, equal round of grants in the fall.
Grant applications will be reviewed and scored by an 11-member board, including members of the Legacy Endowment Fund, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the city Parks Department and a city councilor. All grants will require approval by the Duluth City Council.
Eligible projects will:
Priority will be given to projects that improve the quality of existing parks and that help to connect the community.
Points will be awarded to projects that enhance public stewardship of natural resources, expand partnerships with schools or boost volunteerism.